Bishop Fenwick's McKenna Gilligan takes the ball down the field during a CCL Cup semifinal game against Austin Prep Thursday night at Donaldson Stadium. (Item Photo: Olivia Falcigno)
Sports

Fenwick girls soccer wins in PKs, moves on to CCL Cup final

It all came down to penalty kicks for the No. 2 Bishop Fenwick girls soccer team Thursday evening, and it was Crusaders junior defender McKenna Gilligan who came through in the clutch to notch the winning goal in a 1-0 win over No. 3 Austin Prep in a CCL Cup semifinal game at Donaldson Stadium. 

Gilligan scored in the fourth round of penalty kicks, burying a shot right under the crossbar to give Fenwick the victory.

“I’ve always liked lefties taking penalty kicks because they’re always a little unpredictable,” said Fenwick coach Steve Flaherty. “We talked about what we were going to do in a penalty kick situation at our last practice, and McKenna stepped right up and said she’d be willing to take a kick. I’m incredibly happy for her.”

Also scoring in penalty kicks for Fenwick were Jenna Durkin, Lea Bettencourt and Amy Hatfield. Goalkeeper Claudia Keith had a phenomenal game in net, making a number of clutch saves down the stretch before shutting the door in penalty kicks. 

Fenwick came out strong and pushed the pace early on, but the Austin Prep defense stood up to the challenge the Crusaders posed. That trend continued all game long.

“We played well and put the pressure on them for a good part of the first half, but they really put the pressure on us in the fourth quarter,” said Flaherty. “It was a great game overall on both sides.”

When regulation couldn’t decide things, the two teams went to a five-minute overtime period. That overtime didn’t decide things either, so the two sides played one more five-minute frame. 

After Keith made a huge save at the end of the second overtime to keep the score tied, it came down to penalty kicks. 

“I thought that was the game-changer, to be honest,” Flaherty said of Keith’s late save. “That gave us so much confidence and momentum going into penalty kicks.”

Austin Prep scored on its first opportunity, but then Durkin and Bettencourt went back-to-back to put the Crusaders ahead. The Cougars managed one more goal, but tallies by Hatfield and then finally by Gilligan sealed the win for Fenwick.

The Crusaders (12-1-2) now move on to the CCL Cup final against No. 1 Bishop Feehan Saturday (TBA).

“We’re going to have to be at our very best on Saturday,” said Flaherty. “If we get chances to score, we’re going to have to cash in. (Feehan) is a very strong team and it’ll be a big task going up against them. We only lost one game this year and it was to them, so we’ll bring our best on Saturday and see what we have left in the tank.”

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